Safely Hiking the Kirkjufell Mountain
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Kirkjufell is not only one of the most Photographed mountains in Iceland, but it is also one of the most accessible, fun & thrilling peaks to climb. Although, it’s hard to classify this climb as technical, every year there is a number of people who die while trying to ascend this mountain. Please be careful, trust your common sense and always know when to turn away.
- Distance: 1.9 km (1.2 mi) roundtrip
- Elevation Change: 470 meters (1,540 ft)
- Estimated Duration: 3 hours roundtrip
- Directions: From Grundarfjörður to Kirkjufell
- Alltrails Map: Kirkjufell Hike
- Before you go: It is extremely important that you have proper shoes and that you check the weather forecast before you head out to climb Kirkjufell Mountain. I would highly recommend wearing a proper hiking boot similar to Lowa GTX’s or a rugged trail runners such as my personal favorite La Sportiva Wild Cat.
Since our Grundarfjörður AirBnB was situated right at the foot of the Kirkufell Mountain, we have picked up the trail head right from our cabin. However, the get to the public trail head, please follow the visual map that we’ve created and park your car at the Kirkufellsfoss Parking Lot.
You should only attempt ascending this mountain if you are in a good physical shape, can scramble on rocks, pull yourself up on a rope and rappel down. I would say 70% of the time, the trail goes very close to the edge so it’s important to have good sense of balance and no shaky knees (although mine were shaky at times haha). Luckily, we were the only people doing this hike so we didn’t have any bypassers, and if we did, it would have been a tight squeeze.
There are no trail cairns or markers, so be prepared to look for trail very carefully. There are some trail run offs that lead to a dead end or will simply run you off the mountain if you continue to follow. A few times we had to trace our way back in order to find the trail. There is also a couple of routes you can take. On our visual map, we took a blue route, as it seemed easier to scramble.
When we did our ascend, the weather started to turn bad and a grey cloud was hanging over us. As we were near the top, temperature has dropped significantly and it began to drop tiny hail. Although we did this hike in February, the mountain had no snow due to recent heatwave and lots of rainfall. So just a lot of slippery rock.
In more pleasant weather conditions this is a nice and fun hike up and you get a full 360 degree view at the top. There were a few spacious flat spots along the way where you can stop for a break and enjoy the view. Remember to always follow your senses and turn around if you think trail/weather conditions are getting too dangerous.
There are 3 parts where you will have to use an attached rope to pull yourself up and then rappel down on the way back. First one is half way through, and the last 2 are closer to the top. First rope is about 16-20 feet, second rope is about 18 feet and the summit rope is the longest, probably around 30 feet of vertical incline. Very basic rock climbing skills are required for this.